IRVINE, California — An advocacy group is criticizing John Kasich‘s description of Latinos as stereotypical and one-dimensional, a day after the Ohio governor awkwardly praised a housekeeper in at attempt to spotlight Hispanics’ contributions to the economy.
“A lot of them do jobs that they’re willing to do and, uh, that’s why in the hotel you leave a little tip,” he said at a luncheon at the Shady Canyon Golf Club in Irvine, California.
“This lady wrote me in my hotel there in L.A. She wrote this note. It said, ‘I really want you to know that I care about your stay.’ Is that just the greatest thing?” he said. “So, you know, we can learn a lot and she’s Hispanic, ’cause I didn’t know it at the time, but I met her in the hallway — asked her if I could get a little more soap.”
Kasich spokesman Chris Schrimpf said his words were meant to show his respect for Latinos.
“He was talking about how great the service was and how we should respect everyone in our society, no matter what their job or position might be,” he told CNN Friday.
But Kasich’s comments lack historical context and are limiting for Latinos, said Angelica Salis, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, an immigrant rights organization.
“It’s just a stereotype. It really speaks to the one-dimensional view that he has of who we are as Latinos in this country,” she told CNN. “As Latinos, we participate in every single industry and aspect of society. And to be good to Latinos is to show respect to their entire contributions.”
Salis, the daughter of a maid, said there’s no shame in hospitality work.
“While we are so proud to be working in the service industry, we’re not just that — agricultural workers and maids in hotels,” she said. “There’s pride in that. However, I think it just reflects the one-dimensional view of Latinos in America.”
But the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which is scheduled to host Kasich for a question-and-answer session next month, deemed his remarks “well-intentioned but extremely awkwardly phrased.”
“Obviously, he has a more compassionate view than other candidates in the Republican Party,” said Ammar Campa-Najjar, the group’s spokesman. But, he added, Kasich is “light years behind people like Hillary Clinton or Martin O’Malley or Jeb Bush in his full comprehension of the overarching contributions of the community.”
Clinton used the controversy to appeal to the Latino community, slamming Kasich’s comments in a tweet in Spanish that called him “another product in the Party of Trump.”
Campa-Najjar said it was perfectly appropriate for Clinton to beat back Kasich’s remark given Clinton’s “superior understanding” of immigration issues.
“Because she’s so evolved on it, she can criticize folks who make glib statements like that,” he said.